Dazzling display of dance: DU Dance showcase at intervarsities

Molly Haslam covers the preparation and accomplishment of DU Dance placing in the top 3 at the Intervarsities competition

In a triumphant display of skill and artistry, DUDance proudly showcased its talent by sending four teams to the highly anticipated intervarsity competition hosted by Dublin City University (DCU) at the Helix Theatre in late February. The event, with participation from 13 Irish colleges, featured a myriad of dance categories including jazz, contemporary, hip hop, Irish, and mixed.

“Trinity College left an indelible mark on the competition, with representation in each category except for mixed”

The journey commenced with auditions held in October 2023, where the university’s dance enthusiasts poured their passion into securing a spot on a team. Since then, under the leadership of committed team captains, each group dedicated themselves to perfecting their routines, ensuring they were ready to captivate the audience, but most importantly the judges, on the stage.

Among Trinity’s teams, hip hop and Irish came home victorious. Hip hop placed third in a tough and talented competition which boasted the largest entries for the event. Catching up with the hip hop captain, Amy McKenna, she says preparation, “all starts with music.” The creative process involves brainstorming ideas over the phone, followed by in-person meetings where they sift through potential songs. “We know we’ve found the right one when we start jumping around from excitement!” she added. 

Dancing is no easy feat and the endurance required for this competition is not any different. Mckenna commented that, “4 minutes and 17 seconds doesn’t sound like a lot until you’re made to go full out!” After the high-energy performance, the immediate aftermath is the team catching their breath before the award ceremony commences. McKenna confessed that “Results always make me nervous.” She added that, as the captain, there is an added layer of pressure not to disappoint the team. 

The elation that followed the announcement of their third-place victory was palpable. McKenna described feeling overwhelmed with relief and gratitude. “It’s incredibly rewarding to receive a trophy as a tangible symbol of our dedication,” she expressed, highlighting the challenges the team had to overcome during months of preparation. During intervarsities, only the top three teams are given a placement. Achieving a spot signifies that you stand among the top university teams in Ireland, given the intense competition within the event. As for next year, McKenna encourages anyone thinking about auditioning or joining the society to go for it. “It will be the best thing you do!”.

The Irish team, choreographed and captained by Ailbhe McCormick, brought home gold picking up first place in their category. Blending traditional elegance with a high-energy pop performance, the journey to victory began months ago. 

McCormick described choreographing the routine to be a challenging yet rewarding task. She emphasised that serving as the sole captain of the team was an arduous role, especially considering that in previous years, most teams had at least two captains. She admitted, “I felt a lot of pressure after coming second both years prior to improve and bring the win home”. However, the team left the audience in awe and positive feedback and compliments poured in, boosting their confidence, and setting the stage for a well-deserved celebration! 

Tension gripped the team as the results were announced in reverse order. McCormick, squeezing a teammate’s hand anxiously, experienced a rollercoaster of emotions after they were announced champions. She said that “Everyone else jumped up and started screaming, but I curled up in a ball, fully in shock”. Following the exciting announcement she recalled that “A couple of tears were shed, but the relief and satisfaction as captain [that] I had led my team to victory was overwhelming!”. While winning was a significant goal, McCormick emphasised her gratitude towards the incredible and supportive team: “I really appreciate them for making this year’s [intervarsities] one of my highlights in Trinity.” The victory highlighted the strength of DU Dance’s Irish team as a dedicated and incredibly talented group of individuals, many of whom are still competing and gearing up for the top championships in the Irish Dancing Calendar.

The society faced initial challenges as it did not receive recognition status by the Central Societies Committee (CSC)  at the beginning of the year. The lack of recognition during the first semester undeniably impacted the overall preparation for intervarsities. Yet, in the face of adversity, DU Dance showcased resilience and determination.

“The success achieved at intervarsities stands as proof of the raw talent and unwavering support within the DU Dance community”

Lucy McQuaid, the 2023/24 chairperson of DU Dance, commented on how the CSC offers support in hiring studios off campus, but that this year the society had to get creative as they did not have the funding. Lucy commented,“Other competing colleges often have access to state-of-the-art on-campus dance studios, which is a luxury that we sadly don’t have at DU Dance,” Furthermore she said that “The preparation for intervarsities was impacted by our lack of recognition for the first semester. But overall, I think our success at intervarsities despite this is testament to the talent and support of our dancers”. The journey may have been tougher this year, but the dancers proved that their passion and dedication can overcome any obstacle, earning them well-deserved applause on the intervarsity stage.

“DU Dance is entirely managed by students”

Every captain assumes the multifaceted role of choreographer, music creator, and team leader during the run-up to the annual intervarsities competition. Simultaneously, the committee diligently manages behind-the-scenes responsibilities, ensuring the smooth execution, not only of intervarsities but also of weekly workshops and various other events. Many dancers have years of performance and competition experience, with intervarsities standing as yet another testament to their enduring dedication, hard work, and commitment to the blend of athleticism and artistry demanded by the sport. Successfully getting a team on stage and representing Trinity with such excellence is undeniably an incredible accomplishment.

Stay connected to this society by following them on Instagram @DUDance and keep up to date with their dance workshops and next year’s auditions!